Lenders pull business credit reports and scores from a business credit bureau. However, not every business has a business credit report at all, let alone a credit score. Business credit, in stark contrast to consumer credit, does not start building automatically.
Avoid These Mistakes When It comes to Your Business Credit Profile
With consumer credit, as soon as you use your first credit card you have a credit report. If you continue to use credit responsibly, that report will include a strong credit score. The same is not true of business credit, and that leads us to mistake number one.
#1: Assuming You Are Automatically Set Up With the Business Credit Bureau
Just owning a business does not ensure you have a business credit profile. There are some things you have to be intentional about to ensure this happens. The first step is setting up your business with a Fundable foundation to ensure that it is recognized as a separate entity from you as the owner. This has to be done before you can even get credit in the name of your business.
Then, a business credit profile can be established with the bureaus.
How Do You Set Up a Business to Be Fundable?
In addition to a D-U-N-S number, you need to be sure your business has:
- Separate contact information
- An EIN
- A dedicated business bank account
- A professional website
- And its own email address
This list is not exclusive, but it is a great start. Additionally, you’ll need to be incorporated. Operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership does not help you get set up with any business credit bureau.
Why Does a Fundable Setup Matter?
If your business is not set up to be Fundable, the information on the credit report may not be accurate. Furthermore, if your business is not set up to be a separate entity from you the owner, payment experiences may not go to business credit bureaus at all.
#2: Assuming There Is Only One Business Credit Bureau
There are many business credit bureaus. The three main ones are Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax. Among the others, FICO SBSS is gaining popularity. Not all of them function the same way when it comes to setting up a profile with them either. It’s different for each one.
Many of them don’t really require anything from you. But, you still have to have your business set up properly. Then, when your creditors report payments, they are reflected accurately.
Dun & Bradstreet
D&B is the oldest and largest credit reporting agency. Go to D&B’s website and look for your business. Don’t see it? It’s probably because you do not yet have a D-U-N-S number. You MUST apply for a D-U-N-S number from them. If you do not have one and your creditors report payments, your business will not be recognized in the D&B system regardless of how your business is set up. This number is how D&B gets your company into their system. You can get one for free.
Once you have a D-U-N-S number, you’ll need at least 3 payment experiences before they assign a PAYDEX score. A payment experience is just a reported purchase from a business, which reports to a credit reporting agency.
Experian will assign your business an identification number called a BIN after you have a payment experience reported to them. Just be sure your business is set up to be Fundable. Then when you have business creditors that report to them, your business will be in the system.
Equifax assigns companies an Equifax ID. It doesn’t appear that you will need to sign up for or request one.
#3: Assuming You Already Have a Business Credit Profile With a Business Credit Bureau at All
Suppose you have been in business for a while. Maybe you are just now figuring out what business credit is. Maybe you thought you had credit in the name of your business, when actually what you have is business funding that you got based on your personal credit.
Where do you start if this is the case?First, look for your business credit profile from each of the main credit reporting agencies, starting with D&B. Of course, if you do not have a D-U-N-S number you will not be in their system.It is POSSIBLE that you may be in the Experian or Equifax system. but you’ll want to check your information closely and request corrections to any mistakes.
Business Credit Monitoring
The next question is, how do you do this? You can go through the business credit bureaus directly, but it can be costly. Credit Suite offers business credit monitoring with all three of the most commonly used business credit reporting agencies, for a fraction of the cost.
Once you see your reports, or lack thereof, you can be proactive in either correcting errors or establishing initial reports. What sort of errors are you looking for? In addition to payment experiences being reported incorrectly, you need to look at your actual business information.
Make sure your business contact information is up-to-date and accurate. If you already have an EIN, ensure that it is attached to your business and is correct. One big issue a lot of small business owners run into is inconsistency in the name of the business.
Something as small as using an ampersand in one place and the word “and” in other places can cause big problems. Ensuring your business name is correct and consistent everywhere, including on your business credit reports, is crucial also.
#4: Ignoring FICO SBSS as a Business Credit Bureau
This score is becoming increasingly common. It stands for FICO Liquid Credit Small Business Scoring Service. Unlike your personal FICO, the SBSS reports on a scale of 0 to 300. The higher the score the better. In general, most lenders demand a score of at least 160.
The thing is, you don’t really “set up” your business with FICO SBSS. The scoring model for this score is very different from other business credit scoring models. However, that does not mean you are helpless.
How Does FICO SBSS Calculate Business Credit Score ?
The score itself isn’t readily accessible. The formula for calculations is proprietary, and they guard it well. The information is not public. Of course, this means you can go into a lender totally blind as to what your FICO SBSS credit score may be.
With other credit reports from business credit reporting agencies, you can actually get a copy of your credit report and know where you stand. In contrast, the FICO SBSS can be different from lender to lender.
How Does a Lender Get Your FICO SBSS Score?
After you fill out a loan application and turn it in with all necessary documents, the lender processes this information and sends it to FICO with a request for your SBSS score. At this time, the lender can ask for certain factors in the score to carry more weight than others. Your score can vary depending on how a lender weighs each factor .
A score variation can happen if a lender puts more weight on your personal credit score or your business credit. Similarly, they could choose to weigh annual revenue as more important than payment history. It is their choice.
FICO then searches business credit information from business credit agencies including D&B, Experian, and Equifax. As a result, your score with these bureaus affects your FICO SBSS.
What Can You Do?
Even though there is no real way to set up your business with FICO SBSS, you can definitely work to affect the score. Establish your business with the other business credit bureaus. Keep your personal and business credit in good order. Then, if a lender chooses to use that score, regardless of how much weight they put on each factor, you should be good.
You Must Be Intentional When it Comes to Your Profile with Any Business Credit Bureau
You aren’t powerless. The great thing about business credit is that it does not just carry you off before you know what is happening. In contrast, you have to intentionally jump in. The first step is to set you business up to be Fundable. Then, get a D-U-N-S number. After that, find accounts that report and get started building your business credit score. Check out our business credit builder for a step-by-step guide to building the strongest business credit score possible for your business.